Last week on our Durban day safari (10th May 2015) we had an awesome day tour to the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Game Reserve.
We left Durban for the safari and arrived at the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Big 5 Game Reserve sometime around 8am. We had an excellent day seeing all the usual suspects, 3 of the Big 5 and even a male cheetah hunting.
After lunch we got to experience something quiet special though, albeit a little sad. As it was the week before the annual game auction Hluhluwe Game Reserve has each year, the capture bomas were full. We were guided by a local volunteer into the back and taken around to see the animals up for auction first. It was really amazing to see these wild white rhino that were captured and awaiting auction close up and on foot. The Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve has long been a success story in the breeding and distribution of rhino to other parts of Africa. Private land owners pay good money for them and in so doing put much needed funds back into conversation.
Some of the other enclosures included wildebeest and nyala. No matter your stance on hunting, the hunting game farms who run hunting tours and safaris around Africa spend millions on replenishing their game reserves with new game stock and so put money directly back into conservation.
Then we got a first hand taste of the devastating effect poaching is having on our rhino populations. South Africa is loosing roughly 2 rhino a day, with absolutely no sign of slowing down. What we saw in the next few boma’s was a real reality check.
First we were shown an adult male rhino who had been moved from a Reserve close by called Ophathe Game Reserve. The really sad part was this reserves main reason for existing was as a sanctuary for rhino! However decimated by poaching over the last few years and with many different measures to protect them failing, this was the only one left. The rangers then decided, as his fate was inevitable, to relocate him to Hluhluwe Umfolozi.
Next was 3 orphan white rhino, between the ages of 10 and 14 months. Their mothers had been killed and lucky for them they had been spared, as can be seen by the video, their horns are of no significance just yet. Lastly, a 4 week old black rhino was being kept in the last enclosure. Small and unable to defend itself or understand what was happening, he was having to be hand reared to keep him alive. The idea with all 4 of the rhino is to raise them to adulthood and hopefully release them back into the reserve. Let us hope they are successful and their fate ends better then their mothers. My hope is this information and video can help to show the reality of the situation and make people realize the problem is all of ours…